Wednesday, June 22, 2005

somebody tell me

Check out the article in the Post about Attorney General Gonzales' speech yesterday to the National Center for Victims of Crime. He's not pleased with the Supreme Court's recent ruling against mandatory minimums, saying that prison sentences are getting shorter (a stat that the Post disputes, by the way).

Here's my question. What's the problem with shorter prison sentences? I mean, is there research out there that says that society benefits from longer sentences? I literally do not know. Yes, you keep the bad guys off the street longer, but does that necessarily mean "better"? The costs of keeping them there? The costs of reintroducing them into society after a long prison sentence? The cost of keeping families apart? Of keeping family providers away from their families? The impact of a longer prison sentence on recidivism?

I didn't write about this when it happened, but
the Post article reminded me of a bill that passed through the House last month. If passed by the Senate (which is deemed "uncertain" in the article), the legislation would impose mandatory minimums on gang members. It's a bad idea, folks. I mean, at least if you are a fan of civil rights, that is. Who gets discretion in determining whether or not a defendant is a gang member? Young, black and male and living in the wrong neighborhood?

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